The Honorable Curtis E.A. Karnow

San Francisco Superior Court, Department 611


The Hon. Curtis E.A. Karnow is a judge for the Superior Court of San Francisco County in California. He was appointed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on February 23, 2005.

Karnow earned a B.A. in philosophy from Harvard University in 1974. He then received a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Law in 1977.

Karnow began his legal career as a law clerk for Judge Louis H. Pollak of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. While living in Philadelphia, he also worked as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Office of the United States Attorney of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Karnow spent most of his legal career in private practice. He started at a small plaintiffs law firm, where he specialized in securities and antitrust class actions. Karnow continued to work extensively as an intellectual property litigator, acquiring national attention for his work in computer and internet law.

Karnow has worked for the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund on a pro bono basis. He has also represented indigent San Francisco families in their efforts to obtain guardianship of children with incarcerated parents.

Karnow has worked as an adjunct professor at Hastings College of the Law. He has also lectured at Stanford University, New York University, Yale University, and the University of San Francisco.

Karnow is the adopted son of Stanley Karnow, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter from the Washington Post. Stanley Karnow is widely known for his coverage of the Vietnam War. Karnow accompanied his father on his excursions into the field, spending his childhood living in Vietnam, France, North Africa, and Hong Kong. Karnow eventually moved to the United States in order to attend high school.

Karnow is a prolific writer. He has published a number of fiction and non-fiction books. He is also a licensed pilot.

He is registered as a Democrat.

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